Jabeur back to full fitness in Paris

Tunisian seventh seed at full strength following injuries to both legs

Caroline Garcia, Ons Jabeur, entraînement, Roland-Garros 2023©Cédric Lecocq / FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

First a medical issue, then a calf injury – it has not been entirely smooth sailing for Ons Jabeur in recent months.

Having started the year as the world No.2, the Tunisian underwent an unspecified medical procedure only for a left calf injury to flare up following her return to the European clay.

Health problems resolved, Jabeur declared herself fighting fit in Paris, the site of her 2011 junior Grand Slam triumph.

“Yeah, definitely 100 per cent. I was training with a lot of players, moving normally,” she said.

“But, you know, you always have it in your mind like what if something could happen? But I try not to focus on that. Definitely finding my rhythm.

“The way I move on the court I feel like is much better. If you have the time to come and watch my practice, I think you'll see.”


With a bonus couple of days to find that rhythm, Jabeur was handed a Tuesday start to her 2023 campaign against in-form world No.102 Lucia Bronzetti.

Ons Jabeur, Roland-Garros, Media Day 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

No easy draws

The Italian won her maiden tour title in Rabat on Saturday, downing Julia Grabher after surrendering just two games to former Roland-Garros finalist Sloane Stephens in the semi-finals.

“The first match will be hard, because she's actually on the rise right now,” Jabeur said. “There is no easy first round. I will do my best.

“The most important thing for me is to be in good health, because it was hard lately with all these injuries that I had sustained. I will try to play with the same mindset as for Charleston [where she beat Belinda Bencic in the final], because I think it was the best tournament that I played this season.”

That title run in Charleston was a high point in an otherwise stop-start season.


One thing after another

Knee surgery followed a second-round exit to Marketa Vondrousova at the Australian Open, and Jabeur did not return until Indian Wells two months later, where the Czech again had her number.

A return to South Carolina’s green clay came as just the elixir she needed.

There, the 28-year-old charged to the title without conceding a set before a switch to Europe’s red clay delivered confidence-restoring wins over Jelena Ostapenko and Beatriz Haddad Maia in Stuttgart.

Her momentum was quickly halted when a calf injury scuttled her semi-final against Iga Swiatek.

It was enough to rule a line through Jabeur’s Madrid title defence and her ranking slid to world No.7.

Ons Jabeur, Issam Jellali, Roland-Garros 2023, practice© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Extra motivation

Following a surprise departure to Magda Linette at the first hurdle last year, she now has a golden opportunity to reclaim lost ground at the only major where she is yet to reach the last eight.

It is a chance, too, to match Morrocan Hicham Arazi’s 1997 and 1998 runs – the most recent North African to make it as far at Roland-Garros.

“Maybe it will change, and I will have it on my bucket list,” Jabeur said. “Of course it is hard to play on clay because it's more physical. I will try to go slowly but surely.

“We'll see if I will do better than Hicham and reach the quarters. We will actually have a small fight with Hicham on that point.”

Victoria Azarenka, Ons Jabeur, practice Roland-Garros 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT